6 common questions people ask addicts in recovery

Are you new to recovery? Prepare yourself! These are some of the difficult – and ignorant – questions people might ask you in addiction recovery.

minute read

Get Ready For the Good … and the Bad

The road to recovery with any addiction is never a leisurely drive in the country; it’s a long-haul, full of:

  • Ups
  • Downs
  • Potholes
  • Thankfully…rest stops

During the journey, it’s important to ‘find your voice’ in talking about addiction recovery. While meaningful conversations with mentors, friends, and family can be invaluable, be prepared to get some or all of these questions to make your way into conversations about your recovery.

QUESTION 1: “Don’t you find sobriety boring?”

It’s going to be difficult for some to understand your new lifestyle, but don’t let it phase you. It’s a great opportunity to share hard-earned wisdom – that the most happiness can be found when you’re not dependent on any external substance.
Holly Glenn Whittaker put it best on her Hip Sobriety blog post, “Prior to October 2012, if you had asked me to describe what I imagined sobriety looked like, I would have said something that sounded like a fart noise while I pointed two thumbs down…What I have discovered on this side of the bar scene is the exact opposite. My life without alcohol is where my actual living began.”

QUESTION 2: “What drugs did you do? …and for how long?”

This one can come from good friends engaging a conversation to show support or it could be a ploy to get fodder for gossip. Reply only when you feel comfortable or trust the individual you’re talking with.

QUESTION 3: “What made you start using drugs?”

It is unbelievable people ask this, but they sometimes do. Deflect by joking, “Oh am I paying you for therapy now? Where’s the couch?” or explain that addicts can have a normal childhood. Sometimes the answer can be as simple as, “I liked being high.”

QUESTION 4: “I’ve tried [your vice] too. It’s about self-control.”

This comes from someone who really doesn’t get it and it’s hard to find a civil response. It’s true; some people can drink, gamble or use narcotics without becoming hooked but studies now show that the virtue of ‘self-control’ may really be a myth when it comes to serious addictions.

QUESTION 5: “You don’t look like an addict?”

This can rub you the wrong way the same way as, “Oh you just fell in with a bad crowd” or “Your girlfriend/boyfriend was the bad influence.” It is meant as a compliment, a way for family and friends to take away the responsibility or stigma of “addict”, but it’s still putting down addicts. You can reply in one of many ways. If you’re interested in advocacy, explain that addiction affects one in 3 American families, and that addicts come from all backgrounds. Check out more facts and statistics by visiting Facing Addiction, a non-profit committed to advocacy for access to treatment.

QUESTION/COMMENT 6: “I’m so glad that I don’t have a problem.”

If this doesn’t get a hard eye roll, I don’t know what will. There are probably a lot of unkind things you can reply to the clueless person who tells you this, but it’s probably simplest to say, “I’m glad you don’t either.”

Whether people have good or bad intentions, using humor can be the best way to deflect and distract. Share some of your best replies below!

About the author
Tyler is a freelance writer/journalist, with past experience as the head content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today.
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